Goma safe from rebels - UN

2012-10-03 21:15
Women gather around wood fires as they prepare their evening meal at a transit home inside the Heal Africa clinic in Goma, DRC. (Roberto Schmidt, AFP)

Women gather around wood fires as they prepare their evening meal at a transit home inside the Heal Africa clinic in Goma, DRC. (Roberto Schmidt, AFP)

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Kinshasa - The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo said on Wednesday that the security set-up around the main eastern city of Goma would stop the M23 rebels from seizing it were they to act on their recent threats.

"The measures that were put in place around Goma do not allow for any attempt by M23 to penetrate this set-up and enter Goma," Prosper Basse, military spokesman for the peacekeeping mission, told the press.

To reach Goma, the capital of the unstable North Kivu province, "there are three major routes," including one leading from the Rutshuru area where the rebels are stationed, "and I can assure you that security around Goma is solid", he added.

The M23 - a group of former rebels who integrated the regular army in 2009 but mutinied earlier this year - threatened on Monday to seize Goma to "save" its inhabitants from a surge in violence they blamed on the army.

"If the supreme commander [President Joseph Kabila] does not keep the army in check in Goma, we will save the population which is dying as result every day," the group's spokesperson, Vianney Kazarama, told AFP on Monday.

Around 20 people have been arrested in recent days over the string of incidents, including gun and grenade attacks, that have left at least three people dead and four others wounded.

Goma's mayor and police chief have blamed the violence on the M23.

Basse characterised the rebel threats as pure "propaganda" but added that "our forces are equipped enough, determined enough to protect the city of Goma somehow or other".

- SAPA
Read more on:    un  |  m23  |  drc  |  central africa
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